NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE MARINE CORPS THROUGH THE EYES OF THOSE WHOSE MOTTO IS “ALWAYS FAITHFUL

Rick Kern
Fri, Mar 14, 2014

If you happen to be cruising down the I-95 near Washington, DC, you’re not going to want to miss the National Museum of the Marine Corps (NMMC). Among the most worthwhile investments of your time, the NMMC, a state-of-the-art facility, is an unforgettable up-close-and-personal encounter with the history of those whose legendary motto is, Semper Fidelis — “Always Faithful.”

Located on a 135-acre site adjacent to Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, the 120,000-square-foot Museum's design is deeply moving, evoking the image of the flag-raisers of Iwo Jima. Showcasing some of the nation´s most historic and treasured artifacts, the National Museum of the Marine Corps preserves and exhibits the physical history of the U.S. Marines. It is home to approximately 1,000 artifacts that are as large as tactical attack aircraft and as small as individual blouse buttons from the Civil War. The displays include tanks, aircraft, small arms, uniforms, and over 1,800 photographs, letters, and illustrations.

Honoring the commitment, accomplishments, and sacrifices of Marines, the NMMC interprets the history of the Marine Corps through public exhibitions, collections-based publications, and other public programming venues. Additionally, they conduct collections-based research and share their findings through publications, exhibitions, and public programming.

The NMMC also develops educational materials and conducts instructional programs for educators, students, and families to help increase awareness of the storied history of the USMC. “We welcomed 50,000 students last year in organized student groups from as far away as Canada and California,” says Ms. Gwenn Adams, Public Relations Chief for the NMMC. “We have a very robust education program and the experience really sticks if they can see it and talk to the men and women who have been there.” For example, imagine talking to Mr. Frank Matthews, USMC retired, was actually at Iwo Jima and saw the flag go up just as it is memorialized in the legendary photo. It’s a depth of education that simply eclipses conventional academics.

“Since our opening in November 2006, we have averaged approximately 500,000 visitors to the National Museum of the Marine Corps,” continues Ms. Adams, “and I can’t begin to tell you about the numbers of e-mails and letter we have received.” This isn’t your typical fan mail, it routinely echoes with healing overtones. “Thank you so much, now I understand,” recounts Adams, “their husbands, fathers, brothers — they never talk about it. For us that’s everything.” Many of those visitors have been Marines, accompanied by family, friends, and comrades-in-arms from the Navy, Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard. The NMMC has also had the honor of welcoming many visitors and dignitaries of foreign nations.

The reviews are stellar, and to give you an idea, www.tripadvisor.com has nearly 300 unsolicited positive comments about the NMMC! One visitor writes, “SUPER Place for Military, Vets, families and Kids. This is a great place for ANYONE to learn the history of the Corps as well as history in general. Great displays.” Another describes the NCCM as, “A fabulous military museum... up there with some of the best.” And on it goes.

The Museum and its nearby Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel are also frequently chosen for educational ventures, weddings, promotions, graduations, and special events such as memorial ceremonies. You might well ask, “When is a museum more than a museum?” and be hard pressed not to answer, “When it’s the National Museum of the Marine Corps!” With several distinctive venues and cuisines available for special events, the NMMC has the perfect setting for any occasion, whether it’s an intimate luncheon for twenty or an elegant reception and dinner for 500.

From corporate functions to personal occasions, the group’s professional staff provides comprehensive event-planning service helping with everything from catering to room design to lighting. And to enhance a truly exceptional and memorable event, guests can have private access to the Museum and its international award winning galleries and exhibits during their function.

The NMMC venues are charming, thematic, and varied, including: the majestic Leatherneck Gallery which can accommodate events from large receptions to elegant dinners with the ability to seat 850 guests for dinner or 1,000 for a standing reception. The Overlook, located on the second level of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, provides an intimate dining experience for up to 60 seated guests for lunch or dinner, and 100 guests for a reception. As mentioned, there is the Semper Fidelis Memorial Chapel, a perfect location to exchange vows, bid farewell to a loved one albeit reluctantly, or enrich any number of occasions.

Legend has it that the first Marines were recruited at the original Tun Tavern in Philadelphia on November 10, 1775 by Captain Samuel Nicholas. Tun Tavern, the Museum´s intimate and authentic replica facility, offers a full lunch menu along with bar service. Available for after Museum hours events, Tun Tavern can accommodate 36 guests for a seated dinner or buffet-style reception. And finally, the group offers the Devil Dog Diner. This unique cafeteria style eatery serves a cuisine reminiscent of the Marine life, offering menus inspired by Mess Hall fare familiar to all Marines. The Devil Dog Diner offers catered receptions, continental breakfasts, group voucher programs and school lunch menus.

Among their more engaging offerings is the National Museum of the Marine Corps Virtual Experience. A world class series of interactive tours, the NMMC Virtual Experience allows guests to enjoy the Museum from the comfort of their home. They have it all online, from the birth of the Corps 1775, right up to today’s war on terrorism. You can take a virtual walk in the boots of a new recruit and then continue on through subsequent USMC history such as WW2, the Korean Conflict, the War in Viet Nam, and the current operations in Iraq and Afghanistan — getting up-close-and-personal with the bravery and heroism that exemplifies the USMC.

The National Museum of the Marine Corps Virtual Experience features full screen, high-definition 360° panoramic tours of all the galleries, oral history recordings, walking tour narratives developed for the museum, video interviews and personal recollections by museum docents (the people who lead the guided tours), zoomable HD photos of special exhibits, and much more! Visit www.virtualusmcmuseum.com to experience this remarkable project.

The future holds bigger and better things as the NMMC is scheduled to break ground on an 88,000-square-foot addition in 2015 — including a theater that is expected to be operational in 2017. The first gallery is scheduled to open in 2018 and the group anticipates the entire project to be complete by 2020 with the main exhibit profiling the years 1976-2013. “We look forward to welcoming more visitors,” says Ms. Adams enthusiastically, “I have no doubt that this will be one the best museums they have ever visited.”

For more information, visit the National Museum of the Marine Corps Website at www.usmcmuseum.com.




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